An Aristotelian Naturalist Perspective on Artificial Nutrition and Hydration

Paolo Biondi

About author

Dr. Paolo Biondi,
Associate Professor and Chair
Department of Philosophy
University of Sudbury
935 Ramsey Lake Road
Sudbury, ON P3E 2C6



This polemical note looks at the ethical issue of providing artificial nutrition and hydration (ANH) to patients with advanced dementia from the perspective of an Aristotelian and naturalist ethics. I argue that this issue may be considered in terms of the Aristotelian notion of eudaimonia, well-being. I present a number of facts about the conditions of human life that contribute to eudaimonia. In addition, I present a number of facts about advanced dementia as well as clarify the goals of medicine. From these facts, I argue that we are not ethically obligated to provide ANH to this class of patients.

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  1. Aristotle, The Complete Works of Aristotle, The Revised Oxford Translation, 2 vol., Bollingen Series LXXI, J. Barnes (ed.), Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ 1984.
  2. Paolo C. Biondi, Rachel Haliburton, “Thinking About End of Life in Teleological Terms,” Diametros (45) 2015, p. 1–18.
  3. Erik M. Clary, “On the Nature of Tube Feeding: Basic Care or Medical Treatment?” Ethics and Medicine (26/2) 1998, p. 81–91.
  4. Carol Collier, Rachel Haliburton, Bioethics in Canada: A Philosophical Introduction, Second edition, Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc., Toronto 2015.
  5. E.-L. Marcus, O. Golan, D. Goodman, “Ethical Issues Related To End Of Life Treatment In Patients With Advanced Dementia – The Case Of Artificial Nutrition and Hydration,” Diametros (50) 2016, p. 141–160.


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